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That time of year

Where does summer go? It seemed we just finished quilting in May and now we are already sliding into August.  The volunteers at the museum are busIMG_4520y every afternoon greeting visitors and telling them about the history of this valley.  Other volunteers did some work on the playground so the area under the swings and slide won’t get so muddy in the future.  It is temporarily fenced off but will be available soon for all the children who enjoy playing there. Last week four of us got together in the morning to give all the buildings in the Village a good dusting and sweeping so they continue to look their best for the summer season. And of course other Historical Village fans are busy planning the annual Dinner on the Lake.  The lovely fundraiser for the Tobacco Valley Board of History is always a treat for the forty people who attend.  This year’s menu includes a four-course meal featuring French cuisine and wine. Imagine eating this scrumptious meal while looking out over Dickey Lake in the evening on August 13th. Tickets are already sold out but Carol does have a waiting list if you are tempted. Call her at 889-3427.

As always, I am astounded by the time and energy people give to maintaining the Historical Village.  They recognize that this is not just a museum but our heritage.  It contains the history of the people who settled here, the lives that created this community and those who give it their heart to continue.  Perhaps you will have time this summer to stop by and amble through the buildings, or give Carol a call to attend the Dinner on the Lake, or maybe think about how you can help to make the Tobacco Valley Board of History even stronger. Thanks.



Where it starts

It starts with a seed. Actually cotton comes from many seeds planted in the spring, gradually producing flowers that when pollinated produce fruit. The flowers emerge pale yellow but once pollinated they sharpen into pink and gradually a bright fuchsia. And the fruit that is produce from the flower isn’t your typical fruit like an apple or a mango. It’s a fruit that is a boll, a tough outer shell that contains soft white fluff and seeds. Between when the seed is planted in the spring to the boll harvested in the fall, the cotton plant grows to be about forty-eight inches and it puts out those lovely fuchsia colored flowers because it is related to the hibiscus after all. And then the bolls are harvested, the cotton ginned which bonnieseparates fluff from seeds, its put into gigantic bales and sent off to be made into thread and then into cloth.
Of course there are numerous steps from the bales arriving to the bolts of cloth being shipped out. The cotton needs to be combed and carded. All the fibers need to be aligned so they can be spun into thread. And then all those thousands, millions of miles of thread are woven into cloth. The cloth is dyed mauve or turquoise or that creamy yellow that Carmen likes. Perhaps it is printed with the small floral designs that Judy prefers or bright fanciful animals that Cathryn will use for the baby quilts.

This is only a very quick glance at the process from seed to fabric bolt. There is no rumbling of machines planting cottonseeds twelve rows at a time under a southern sky. Nor the grumbles of Eli Whitney who invented the cotton gin and never made money from it. Can the body-shaking vibrations in a factory full of machines spinning that fluff into cotton threads at more than 2,500 revolutions a second even be imagined? And those looms! Not just any loom will do but looms called Sulzer shuttleless weaving machine or a water-jet loom. Acres of factories producing acres of cloth. So many acres of cloth that it is counted in tons, yes metric tons, rather than the sensible yards measured out at the fabric store.
It starts from a seed and transforms into that bolt of fabric that the slightly older woman with a pair of glasses hung around her neck measures and cuts into lengths at the shop. It will be taken home and cut again into smaller pieces and sewn into a pattern that becomes the top of a quilt.

Start something new

I like this photograph of Cathryn showing Nikki how to quilt. A few weeks back, we were finishing up the quilt that belonged to Nikki and before it was absolutely imagedone, she stopped by to do a bit of sewing on it herself. The moment was perfect and the sunlight on the quilt helped to capture the magic of Cathryn passing on the tradition. It seems ideal as we begin the new year to think of new things that we each can learn. Bev is mastering her smart phone. Renata explained how to do ice dying. Mary Louise is bravely taking on a major renovation to her house. I set 2016 as a year I am seriously going to focus on improving my writing.

Nikki’s quilt is finished now so we began a new one. Bonnie pieced it and as always, it’s lovely. We are still discussing how it will be quilted but I have no doubt the final decision will be a good one.  In the meantime, we have some items from the bazaar that we are selling and raffle tickets for the floral quilt to those visitors who stop by the old school house. You might think the cold temperatures and snow drifts would deter them, but nope. People still come in to see what we are working on, perhaps pick up a few belated gifts and catch up on news.  I could surely relax into the calm pace of our Friday quilting but inspired by the other older quilters, I am determined to improve this year.



Quilting all over

Imagine my surprise during a recent trip to Korea to discover there is actually enthusiasm there for styles of quilting that are imagetraditionally American. The fabrics, the hues, even many of the styles are ones I see often at the Historical Village.   A gracious host I was staying with took me to one of her favorite quilt shops.  The women working on their projects showed me what they were doing. The shop owner brought out some incredibly beautiful work that she had made. I shared photos of the quilters at the Historical Village and the quilts we had worked on. The Korean women were amazed at the size of the quilts we did.  They tend to do smaller pieces that are easier to work on in tight quarters or take home to work on in the evening. It was a delightful afternoon as I admired their lovely work (how I envied those small stitches) and told them about the Eureka Montana Quilt Show.  Perhaps one of these days they will come visit. Or perhaps our quilters can do an exchange program to Korea.  The wonders of shared interests that overcome language barriers.

Easy support

The Tobacco Valley Board of History is a nonprofit that raises funds to cover the costs – and there are many – for maintaining the Historical Village. They make sure the buildings are in good repair with sound roofs, and are nicely painted. They arrange for lawn maintenance each summer so the grounds look beautiful for the Quilt Show and Shakespeare in the Park. They keep the exhibits organized and the archives up to date.  Members of the board and other volunteers raise the funds to do all of this through memberships, quilting, the annual tight quiltDinner on the Lake, rummage sales and such. This week though there is a new fundraiser and an easy way for you to help support the Village. HA) Brewery and Jax Pizza are hosting a Community Pint Night on Tuesday, September 22.  If you come out to the brewery on Grave Creek, $1 from every beverage and $2 from every large pizza sold that evening will go towards the Historical Village. And to make it even sweeter, Connie Deebel and Friends will be providing awesome music there.  So a delightful evening and a great cause. Put it on your calendar and stop by. And remember to thank HA) and Jax for helping with this community support.

And then there is August

The Eureka Montana Quilt Show was a success by many measures. Over 600 quilts were hung up in town that day. It was the highest level of sales achieved in the eleven years that the show has been going. The weather was clear and people looked like they were enjoying themselves walking on the main street and through the Historical Village. But no one bought the beautiful quilt that the Tobacco Valley Board of History quilters had made. A complete mystery to me because the quilting on it is so intricate.  And although I try not to cop an attitude about hand quilting as compared to machine quilting….how caimagen a machine possibly put as much love and care into a quilt as a group of women stitching by hand? So it is sitting in the cabinet at the old school house waiting for the right individual to stop by to purchase it (or call as we do ship). And the quilters are busy doing other things to make the Village as good as possible.  Numerous ones worked at the quilt show selling raffle tickets for another lovely quilt or helping at the museum. Cathryn has been archiving this summer.  Bev fills in if one of the docents is ill. Lynda helped prepare food for the Dinner on the Lake – this evening! Dianne deposits any money made and makes sure the bills are paid.  And some of us still show up on Friday mornings to work on the blue quilt that we sincerely want to get finished by September. I am suppose to give a Brief Talk this evening at the Dinner on the Lake event to thank everyone who helped and to encourage people to support the Village. It’s a challenge because so many people help from the ones who prepare the food, to those who sort out the chairs and tables, Sally making table arrangements, Ben playing music, Rick and Lynn lending their house for the event, Carol selling tickets.  The complete list would make a Brief Talk impossible.  And then the ask as they say in the funding raising business.  How can I possibly explain the number of stitches needed to pay the electric bill? Or the number of raffle tickets we would need to sell to cover the expense of the new roof? And it’s not just about money because we need volunteers as well to help with maintenance and building projects.  A Brief Talk that can encompass all of this seems impossible but I know the women who quilt at the Village are an incredible group so maybe their juju will be with me as I stand up in front of the diners this evening.

Eureka Montana Quilt Show

museumstoreIt somehow went from feeling like summer was just beginning to here we are perched on the edge of August. Tomorrow is the 11th Annual Eureka Montana Quilt Show. Everyone is getting ready from the guys who wash the streets to the women sorting the quilts so they will be ready to hang up first thing tomorrow.  Of course my favorite time is around 7am tomorrow when the day is still young and the crews are out hanging quilts up and down the main street, on the buildings in the Historical Village and in the parks.  The vendors will be setting up.  This year the RiverWalk committee is selling breakfast next to the Historical Village as a fundraiser so we can all get coffee and pancakes by 8am. This day really is an event that everyone participates in. The electric co-op with their trucks will hang the quilts that go high on the old buildings.  Businesses will hang the quilts on the main street and then ‘police’ them during the day (“Please don’t get your ice cream cone near that quilt, ma’am”). And the town will explode with colors. Everywhere you look there will be patterns and designs in every hue. A nine-square there and an appliqued one over there. The tiniest quilts (minis) will hang in the old library at the Historical Village. The patriotic ones in reds, whites and blues will brighten Memorial Park. You can vote for your favorite quilt of the over 600 that will be displayed in town and later these votes will be tallied to determine the “People’s Choice”. But it is always so difficult to decide.  How is it possible to compare a large quilt with pieces that look like a mosaic to a smaller one that has been hand embroidered?  Or that one that is so unusual to the one made of all different white fabrics? There must be a word when there is too much for your eyes to take in. That’s the Quilt Show.

At some point during the day, take a break in the Historical Village Museum where it will be a tad cooler and with sounds and colors muted. There’s even a sofa there to sit on as you think about which quilt to vote for.